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It is well-known that Matt Harvey is dominating this year. At the halfway point of the season, every metric shows that he has been a Top-3 pitcher in baseball. As they currently stand, his on-base percentage against is the fifth-best single-season mark ever, and his OPS allowed is seventh-best. It says quite a lot about a young pitcher to compare him to Randy Johnson, but there’s a particular reason why Harvey has earned such a comparison. Midway through the season, he has pitched three “Randys,” halfway to Johnson’s single-season record of six. A Randy is defined as a game when the pitcher has at least ten strikeouts and no walks. Although runs allowed is not a criterion (Jon Lieber once allowed 7 runs in a Randy), pitching a Randy strongly correlates with allowing very few runs. The stat is named after Randy Johnson because he pitched 36 10+ K/0 BB games in his career, 9 more than anyone else. Johnson not only threw the most Randys, but also outperformed the average stat line of all Randys since 2000 in ERA, FIP, and K/9.
In his small sample size of three Randys, Harvey has pitched even better than the stat’s namesake in every category except K/9. This means that when he’s at his best, he’s almost unhittable, which is not a guarantee in a Randy. There is a wide range of dominance in this type of performance. For example, Cole Hamels, Max Scherzer, and Gio Gonzalez combined for 84 hits allowed in 86.1 innings with a 3.34 ERA (12 total Randys). On the other hand, Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax combined for 69 hits in 133.1 innings with a 14-0 record and a 0.88 ERA (15 total Randys).
1) There are eight players with at least ten career Randys.
2) Only Johnson and Curt Schilling have recorded six Randys in a single season; Harvey has three so far.
3) Six pitchers have thrown a Randy in relief: Dan Osinski (5 innings), Billy O’Dell (5.2 innings), Mark Guthrie (6 innings), Tom Gordon (6.2 innings), Steve Hamilton (8.1 innings), and Harvey Haddix (8.2 innings).
4) 49.4% of Randys were complete games; 42.1% of those games were shutouts (20.8% of total Randys). 14 no-hitters have been Randys, including 11 perfect games (Walter Johnson, Jonathan Sanchez, and Bill Singer threw the non-perfect-game no-hitters).
5) Nine Randys also qualify as Madduxes (complete game shutouts with fewer than 100 pitches). With such a low pitch maximum, Shields was the only player able to surpass the minimum 10 strikeouts (he had 11).
6) 8 pitchers have thrown at least 12 innings in a Randy; all of those Randys were complete games.
7) There have been seven Randys of five innings or fewer. The shortest randy was thrown by Bill Caudill, who struck out 10 batters over 4.1 innings in a 1979 game against the San Diego Padres.
8) If we add additional control constraints to the criteria for a Johnson, such as requiring the pitcher not to hit a batter or throw a wild pitch, the number of total Randys decreases by 28%. Johnson himself loses a third of his Randys (down to 24 career, which is still the most ever). Of all pitchers with at least ten career Randys, Pedro Martinez loses the largest percent of his Randys (38.9%), just edging out Roger Clemens, who loses 38.1%.
9) In descending order, the five years that have featured the most Randys are listed below. 2013 is on pace to break the record by a long shot.
10) Nine Randys have been pitched in the post-season. Incredibly, Cliff Lee has four of them. Tom Seaver, Hiroki Kuroda, Sterling Hitchcock, Don Newcombe, and Daecon Phillippe each have one. Lee, Newcombe, and Phillippe each threw one in the World Series, all in Game One. Seaver, Kuroda, and Newcombe each got a loss in their post-season Randy.